It wouldn't be summertime without a Journey led bill of classic rock acts touring somewhere. And this year's offering was especially delectable. Journey, Heart AND Cheap Trick! How could you go wrong? Well, I haven't heard from one person yet who thought it did. This billing was a winner all around!
Quite a HUGE crowd of all ages, including 20 & 30 year olds who, no doubt, grew up listening to Journey & Heart on their parents' stereos or car tape decks.
Cheap Trick was out first at 7 for a quick 41 minute set. Most the crowd was in the process of beginning to wander in at this point. Guitarist Rick Nielson, always in a good mood, was his usual chatty self. "We used to live in Philly around 1972 and would come over here. Where did you live, Tom? 15th & Sansom? 16th and Smedley? Tom got a good deal on an apartment after the previous guy that lived there was found dead." Just as I heard a guy near me yell, "Put Journey on"! Rick said, "We recorded this song in a place called Budokan 30 years ago and for some strange reason, I speak very slowly...I-- WANT---YOU---TO---WANT---ME"! This quieted down the restless ones looking for songs they knew and several near me on the lawn jumped up to boogie, raise their fists in the air and sing along.
I'd heard they'd been singing one of my faves this tour, Tonight it's You. But it got replaced tonight by I Can't Take it. DRAT! And in the fifth song slot they've either been playing She's Tight or Come On Come On. We got Come On Come On at this show. It sounded just fine!
Lead singer Robin Zander, as always, sounded awesome. I've never seen him have a bad night. And Tom Petersson & Bun E. Carlos are still nailing tight the bottom end of things.
Tonight was the NO FRILLS C.T. set which ended with Dream Police, where the boys were joined on keyboards by Jonathan Cain from Journey.
Next up to the plate, just before eight, were Heart for an hour set. Many reviewers, I see, have commented that Heart's current lineup is lacking in energy. Though I myself prefer their classic 70s & 80s incarnations, this current grouping of Craig Bartok(guitars, backing vocals), Debbie Shair(keyboards), Ric Markmann(bass) and Ben Smith(drums) are more than capable of covering Heart's vast catalog. And they did a fine job!
There are a few different arrangements of some of their hits. Never started off much like their 1985 recorded version, but then Nancy added in some acoustic guitar. And These Dreams has been totally revamped with Nancy singing and playing mandolin. Most the time I don't mind it when bands change arrangements of their songs as long as the melody is still recognizable. But in the case of These Dreams, I much prefer the original keyboard layered Ron Nevison production from the album. I believe Heart has recast some of these 80s songs in more of the style they would've originally done them themselves. I think they're trying to move away from the 80s productions, as they felt more pressure at the time to do the songs that way to have hits.
My one minor objection is their ongoing love of doing the types of cover songs(tonight we got The Who's Love Reign O'er Me & Zep's Going to California) they used to do back in the 70s when they first started. Mind you, Ann does a fantastic job on them...in many cases she probably sings them better than the originals do today. But in a set of only NINE songs, most of us Heart die-hards would love to hear two more of the MANY Heart hits. Just my opinion.
Last out were Journey. At 9:21 the big screens flashed up to show us the dressing room cam as they lined up to charge out. Loved Arnel Pineda's fist in the air, mouth open classic rock salute. He looks alot more comfortable and at ease now than he did earlier this year when I saw him on the Youtubes and DVD. Arnel(Neal referred to him as the THRILLA FROM MANILA!) was found by the band singing in the Phillipines via some Youtube performances and whisked right over to these shores for an audition.
It's been said by many others who've seen them on this tour before me, but the band is TOTALLY ON FIRE and Arnel was all over the stage leaping, jumping, slapping hands with the people in the front row and nailing one song after another. Total PERFECTION! After the well publicized lead singer problems they've had in the recent past, Journey has turned a corner and is REBORN!
The songs they did from their new CD, Never Walk Away, After All These Years, Change for the Better and Where Did I Lose Your Love were HIGHLIGHTS of the set for me, as were scorching versions of Separate Ways, Ask the Lonely, Be Good to Yourself, etc....the whole set really.... Not one dip in the awesome energy to be found!
Neal Schon is one of the more exciting guitarists to witness on a stage and he and the rest of the band, bassist Ross Valory, keyboardist Jonathan Cain and drummer Deen Castronovo, were all smiles and looked like they were having an awesome time up there. Surprisingly, no Deen lead vocals tonight. But that was okay. Arnel more than held his own.
The biggest complaint for most people tonight was...the bands didn't play long enough. Hopefully, in the near future we might get a slightly longer than 90 minutes Journey show to showcase Arnel's singing on some of the other songs in their catalog. But hopefully, they won't overdo it and burn him out(like a certain Steve Augeri).
In The Street (That 70's Show)
If You Want My Love
Come On Come On
I Want You To Want Me
I Can't Take It
Love Reign O'er Me
Going To California(Encores)
Crazy On You
Never Walk Away
Only the Young
Neal's guitar solo
Stone in Love
Change for the Better
Ask the Lonely
After All These Years
Separate Ways(World's Apart)
Jonathan Cain's piano solo
Where Did I Lose Your Love
Dead or Alive
Harmonica & Guitar duetWheel In the Sky
Don't Stop Believing
Be Good to Yourself
Any Way You Want It(Encore)